Master Falconer Swoops into Bristol for Bird of Prey Demo

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Tom Stanton holds up his Harris hawk, Apache
Image via Mike D’Onofrio at the Chestnut Hill Local.
Tom Stanton holds up his Harris hawk, Apache.
Image via Bucks County Free Library.

Predators from the sky will invade the campus of the Grundy Museum this Saturday (June 19). But don’t worry; they’re under control. The fierce flyers are part of the Bucks County Free Library’s falconry demonstration. 

Master Falconer Tom Stanton will introduce attendees to two raptors: a Peregrin Falcon named Clio and a Harris Hawk, Apache. Both are nine years old (falcons’ life spans are typically 20 years). 

The free presentation includes information on the history of falconry, the care these birds need, and the conservation efforts to preserve them. 

Stanton, according to a Chestnut Hill Local article, chose his pets for their uniqueness. “They’re not like a parakeet,” he explained. “These are wild animals.” 

Falcons are among the fastest animals on the planet. Training them is a time-consuming and intense task but is wholly necessary. Stanton flies his birds without tethers or leashes. They return to him only because of hours of practice and their shared bond. 

The Pennsylvania State Game Commission regulates falconry licenses and permits strictly. Getting the necessary approvals includes completing an apprenticeship and a state exam, plus working through a sponsor. 

Stanton’s licensing process took nine years.  

“I’m living a childhood dream. I was never allowed to keep pets as a child,” recalled Stanton, who grew up in a rowhouse in Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane. 

“Birds of prey particularly just blow my mind.” 

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